Tag Archives: GamerGirl

We Need More Interesting Female Protagonists In Gaming

Toy queen archer
Photo by vinsky2002 on Pixabay

I love playing video games, but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented.

Anita Sarkeesian

I am the only female in my friend group that plays video games. And, I’m not talking about cute cell phone games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood or Alpha Bear (although both those games are great in their way). I’m talking about The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt – with their emotionless, monster-slayer Geralt. I’m talking about Persona 5 – with their dark but honest depiction of Japanese society. Both of these games have male protagonists – only male protagonists, only male viewpoints.

If you’ve played games for as long as I have (over 20 years), then you know the male perspective dominates the gaming sphere. It never used to bother me. I played many video games with a male perspective, but this got me thinking. I like games like Devil May Cry, Kingdom Hearts, The Witcher video game series, and Persona video game series because they have better, more exciting storylines. Each video game that I just listed all have male protagonists. There are, of course, many great games with female protagonists, but not all of them are great plot-wise.

Not to say we don’t have interesting female video game characters in general because we do. What we don’t have enough of are strong leading ladies represented in a non-sexist viewpoint.

I always wanted to play a female protagonist sans the suggestive outfit — a cool female main character. With more than 52 per cent of gamers being female, you’d think there would be more interesting female protagonists. Most games in the Final Fantasy franchise have male playable characters except for Final Fantasy X-2 (Yuna) and Final Fantasy XIII (Lighting). Many MMORPGs and fighting games have female characters to choose from their roster. Newer, AAA titles have very detailed character creation such as Guild Wars and World of WarCraft. You can now make a character in your likeness, a character creation so robust you can mimic your lip shape to your eyebrow raise.

So, what’s the fuss, right? Wrong. There is a fuss.

Female’s representation in video games doesn’t always jive with me. Some female characters are too feminine or nice or “easy” – none of these represent me or singular female experience. I wish there was less over-sexualization of women in video games. I wish female characters weren’t known or addressed as “weaker” than their male counterparts. At the very least, publishers shouldn’t deliberately give female characters weaker stats as “part of the storyline”.

For example, in Final Fantasy X, the female characters had the lowest stats out of the other characters. It meant that I couldn’t go into battle without a stronger, albeit male, character.

If video games today are still profitable with a mainly male perspective, then why bother changing the formula, right? At least that’s what I think some game developers are thinking.

I believe video games are stories. As much as they are an entertainment medium, video games are stories first, like novels. We don’t question nor bat an eyelash for male or female protagonists in actual novels, why do we care more for video game characters? When did the rules change?

Because video games are an experience, you pick up the controller to move the character you become the character. But just like a character in a novel, they have their own story to tell. Your job as a gamer is to get the protagonist from level to level, section to section until they meet their untimely end or not. We can personify the main characters all we want, but they’re only a vehicle to tell us, the gamer, a story. World history and other real-life events inspire video games. Unfortunately, sexism is part of our history.

Video games are just another storytelling medium – like movies, novels, and television shows. But sometimes, I wonder, what would the gaming industry look like if there were more stories told in the female perspective.

Why do you play video games? Do you think there should be more female protagonists in video games?

Share your opinions with me below!

How I Got Started In Video Gaming

Pink Playstation 3 controller and gold Playstation 4 controller
Photo by Alyssa Gallano

It should be the experience, that is touching. What I strive for is to make the person playing the game the director.

Shigeru Miyamoto

When I was six, I became absolutely fascinated with video games. I didn’t grow up with gaming consoles at home. Even then, I still knew my friends were playing Super Mario Kart – without me.

Most people wanted to be like the “cool kids” when they were a kid. The cool kid (in this case, my uncle) had all the best gadgets. My brother and I tinkered around with Bomberman World on the Playstation on occasion. During the rest of the week, I survived my video game craving by playing Solitaire. Yes, solitaire, the game I played on my family’s rinky-dink Windows ’97 computer, but it was bliss. I fantasized about the day I could play in a world with a D-pad.

Fast forward to 2002, my dad, a “PC Master Race” enthusiast, bought my siblings and me, our first video game console, the Playstation 2. The console was a black box with the Playstation logo marked in gradient blue block font. I’ve only ever heard the capabilities of the Playstation 2. Luckily, our new Playstation 2 came bundled with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3.

The game had a simple character creation with an option to change the character’s gender. Honestly, I was happy using Tony Hawk as my main character. He was cool then, and with the multiple iterations of the video game series after THPS3, other people thought he was cool too.

In Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, you were Tony Hawk and Tony Hawk were you – you were the same.

I manically played this game. At first, I only played the game to clear the missions. Over time, I fell in love with the soundtrack, a mix of the hip hop and rock genres dripping in skater-culture influence. I’m listening to this soundtrack right now with a dumb grin on my face. Songs like Amoeba by Adolescents hold a distinct memory of mine, a twelve-year-old me trying to perfect a skateboard combo – to no avail.

I wasn’t even good at THPS3. Man, I just loved to play it. If I asked you to pick a game off my gaming shelf right now, I would be able to tell you a fantastic memory I had playing it.

A great video game should export you another world. A good game should rip you away from your daily thinking, entirely immersing you in its made-up world. 

All this talk about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 makes me miss old video games. I miss the past video games: no microtransactions or forced player-vs-player (PVP) interactions. If only Bethesda kept their #savesingleplayer campaign. 

It’s this nostalgia that inspired me to create this blog. It’ll mostly be blog posts of recollections of my past gaming memories. There will be video game reviews – new AAA titles and old video games. 

Fun fact: I haven’t played Final Fantasy VII before. There may very well be a review for FF7 shortly.

Here’s what you should be expecting from my humble little abode from now: 

  • Video game story time series (because if YouTubers can do story time for content, so should bloggers) 
  • Video game reviews 
  • Rants (another YouTube content troupe but I’ll throw it in here. Who doesn’t love a little Angry Video Game Nerd action?)
  • Commentary about the social and cultural effects of video games

Welcome to this short-Asian gamer girl’s journey through her best and worst gaming experiences. Join me for the ride. I can sure use a player 2.